1 July 2020

Canberrans urged not to visit Melbourne due to COVID-19

| Dominic Giannini
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ACT Health officials travelling to help Victoria

Senior epidemiologist Tambri Housen, senior case investigator Jodie Huet and senior epidemiologist Tim Sloan-Gardner are assisting the Victorian COVID-19 cluster. Photo: ACT Health.

As ACT Health sends a small specialist team south to help with the COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria, Canberrans have been issued with a stark warning: don’t even think about going to Melbourne unless it’s for essential travel.

Although Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said there was no need to put in place a travel restriction order at the moment, Canberra residents have been strongly advised to reassess their need to visit greater metropolitan Melbourne.

“We have the whole way through been taking the advice of health experts and assessing risk,” Ms Stephen-Smith said. “By and large, Canberrans have demonstrated that they are very responsible in terms of responding to the guidance that we provide when we make these announcements.

“If the situation escalates that advice may change.”

The Territory’s Deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Vanessa Johnston, says the increasing case numbers in Victoria is a timely reminder of what can happen if Canberrans do not remain vigilant and fail to manage the ongoing risks of COVID-19.

“We cannot become complacent at this point,” she said.

“When you are having people over at your home, put in your own control measures, know who is there and at what time, download the COVID-Safe app and join FluTracker.”

Victoria* will also begin using saliva testing for people quarantining in hotels to streamline the procedure for new arrivals, Dr Johnston said.

Meanwhile, ACT Health has sent a three-person strong team of health officials to Victoria to help with the deteriorating COVID-19 cluster outbreaks after another 75 people were confirmed to have the virus on Monday (29 June).

Two senior epidemiologists and a senior case investigator left for Melbourne and will spend a week helping Victorian authorities with cluster investigations and response.

Ms Stephen-Smith said the request came from the Victorian Government under existing health arrangements between states and territories.

“This support … is part of the conversations that National Cabinet has been having,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“The staff that have gone down to Victoria are very experienced, knowledgeable, and are ready to help in any way they can.

“I want to assure Canberrans that it will not impact at all on our capacity to respond to new cases should we see any in the ACT.”

There are currently no active COVID-19 cases in the ACT.

*Amended following clarification from ACT Health regarding saliva testing.

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